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October 13, 2007

Out of Sight, Out of Sound

woman signing

Photo Credit: Alessandra Petlin

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Maybe I was seeking control in a chaotic situation, but soon I was wrestling with anorexia and exercise bulimia. I'd work out four to six hours a day until I went into rehab for a month after graduation. At least I was just as compulsive about my schoolwork: I asked other people to take notes for me. In one class, a girl had live closed-captioning at her desk; I read over her shoulder. I did well, graduating with honors.

I learned sign language and was surprised I enjoyed it. If you don't know how to do it, you almost feel like you're missing out when you watch people sign to each other. After graduating from Michigan, I went to Columbia University for two master's degrees in public health and clinical social work. Now I'm a social worker at a school for the deaf, and I organize seminars at the Foundation Fighting Blindness. I'm also developing a private practice as a psychotherapist treating eating disorders.

Still, Usher is a difficult subject to bring up, especially on a first date, although most of my boyfriends have been supportive. I recently dated someone who kept a cup by the side of his bed for my hearing aids. My last boyfriend let me teach him sign language, and we'd use it all the time for fun. It was our own private thing.

I live in Manhattan, mainly because I need the public transportation. I live alone in a building with a doorman, which makes me feel safer. I have a cane now, though I don't use it much.

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